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Networking for Graduates: Why it matters

When questioned, graduate students often confess that a university's network is often one of its biggest draws after academic excellence. What is networking and why is it important? In the first of her three-part series, Kavita Mehta responds.
BY Kavita Mehta |   04-10-2019

Networking for Graduates: Easy tips

When recent graduates and MBA aspirants ask me about the one thing that I value from my educational experiences, I always point to the networks they have helped me create, and mentors I’ve found as a result. Right from my high school classmates to university peers to business school colleagues, my networks have helped in numerous ways – both expected and unexpected!

In the first of this three -part series, I will break down the concept of networking and its value. By sharing personal examples and easy-to-action tips, I hope that you are able to leverage the unique eco-systems of which you are a part. In subsequent pieces, I will dive deeper into ground rules, expectation management, and giving as much as receiving.

network | ˈnetˌwərk |
  1. A group or system of interconnected people or things
  2. Interacting with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one's career


What is networking?
Simply put, business or personal networking is the process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. The people with whom you network can be from school, college, your building society, family friends, your gym – really any place where you regularly meet and speak with others. While you aren’t necessarily related to these people, you likely share a common interest or experience through which you can ‘relate’ to each other. For example, my teenage daughter has a tight knit network within the broader football (soccer) community in our city – one that reaches beyond just her school or neighborhood team.

Types of networks
Networks can be discrete – that is, independent from other networks, or intersecting – overlapping with others in non-structured ways. For example, if you attended school in Calcutta, finished college in Hong Kong, and did an internship in London, it is likely that each of these networks is discrete, with few overlapping members. On the other hand, if you have lived in the same building all your life, it is likely that members of your building network may overlap with your school network.

Back then….
Sixty or seventy years ago, the concept of networking was quite different. You grew up in one place, usually with a large extended family and with members of your community, religious group, or ethnicity in close proximity. You then attended college, usually somewhere nearby, used the placement cell to secure a job, or joined the family business, and voila, you were set for life. If you needed help or insights on an issue or topic, you managed via extended family and other members of your community. And often, since your work was tied to your community, it was even more likely that wider connections were not essential to sustained success.

…and now
Fast forward a couple of decades; large families are a thing of the past, making community support less of an option; people study globally, often gaining multiple degrees and not always in succession; the average person now has 6-8 jobs over a lifetime, often in different fields. And with the advent of digital media, individuals can remain connected beyond the borders of a town and over many decades. In this type of world, networking is paramount for support, growth, and success.

The value of networking
The value of a network is both nebulous and incredibly clear. On the surface it would seem that simply studying hard, performing well in school, and getting a good job would be enough to have a productive and meaningful life. And while that may be true for many or most people, those who aspire to new geographies or fields or those itching for a change will find it difficult to efficiently achieve their goals without tapping networks. Networks enable access to information, resources or leads to the most coveted, not-yet-public jobs or initiatives.

Networking for Graduates
Photo by Prateek Katyal from Pexels

Many people dread going to networking events, citing insecurity, inauthenticity, and general discomfort with meeting people with an agenda in mind. The good news is that networking isn’t a “thing” that you do at a specific place or time. It is fluid and can be cultivated in all aspects of life. My brother is a chatty guy, so he meets new friends and makes connections at the gym and while waiting in line at Starbucks. I am a bit more on the straight and narrow, preferring to add people I meet to my LinkedIn profile and then reaching out in a systematized manner. Whatever route you choose to build a network, make sure it suits your style and personality. Only then will it be valuable to you.

In the next article in this series, I will delve into ground rules related to networking.


Kavita Mehta is a successful entrepreneur, mentor, and business leader with 25 years' experience in building platforms and products that help change people’s lives. Her latest venture, Lore, opens quality education up to everyone who wants to learn, grow and develop their skills and confidence. Lore provides personalized education solutions, regardless of background, age or any perceived limiting factors.



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